Americans are showing up for small businesses like never before. As the effects of COVID-19 have crushed sales, local consumers, social media channels and news outlets are all finding ways to support small businesses – from recommendations to hashtags to news stories and more.
Your community’s awareness and willingness to support you is at an all-time high. So, how can your small business step up and be seen? Here are four real ways to help you connect:
1. Get social.
We know you’ve heard that before, but in this moment, social media is leveling the playing field for small businesses to truly compete with larger companies.
Facebook and Instagram are providing users unique ways to promote small, local businesses, such as a “Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram stories, and a “Share a Business” feature on Facebook. In addition, Facebook recently launched Shops to allow small businesses a way to sell products online through a virtual storefront. Use these tools to support other businesses in your personal and business posts, and ask your customers to support you, too.
When sharing content on social, do it regularly with helpful (not promotional) posts, use three or four relevant hashtags, and comment on your partners, peers and customers posts to increase your visibility. Make the most of social media: Be humble and hopeful, have a sense of humor and engage in two-way conversations in real time.
2. Let people know what you’re up to.
This is critical. People need to know if you’re open, if your hours, menu or services have changed, or if you’re only letting a few people in your business at a time. They’ll require this information before leaving home. They will call or find you online first. Put this info on your social media, your voicemail and your website. If you don’t answer the phone or they can’t easily find you, they’ll move on. Use these modern tools to make sure you don’t miss out on business!
Once you’ve got these basics covered, send email communications to your current customers to keep them updated. Provide an offer. Ask them to follow you on social media or visit your website for the latest and greatest news from you. Remember: They want to hear from you and support your business. Make it easy for them to do it.
3. Tell your story.
Local news stations are on your side right now, and they’re eager for fresh stories. If you’re doing something creative or offering a new service to keep your business afloat, reach out to the station’s news tip line and let them know. We’ve seen restaurants get creative by bottling cocktails (where allowed), hosting virtual wine tastings or making to-go boxes with ingredients for favorite menu items so customers can cook like a pro at home.
Thryv customer Bloomin’ Crazy Nursery not only helped customers start up an at-home gardening hobby, they also encouraged visitors to roam their garden since they only allow only four customers inside at a time. If you’ve got a fun activity for waiting customers, ask a news reporter to come for a visit. Most news stations not only offer a tip line, but direct email addresses for reporters, as well. Or send them a message over social media.
4. Sing the praises of others.
This isn’t about reciprocity. It’s about doing your part. Build the awareness and support for your businesses and those who are keeping it alive. Celebrate your staff, thank your partners and notice your peers. Use social media to tag these folks, along with organizations, like the local chamber of commerce or service groups, to help spread your good vibes.
Consider creating a “partners” page on your website with logos and links to their sites to recognize and thank them for helping you build and sustain your business. If you’re visiting your peers’ businesses, give them a shout-out on social media and maybe considering adding more to your tip, if appropriate. After all, we’re all in this together.